RICHMOND, Va. -- Preparations are underway to have COVID-19 vaccines available in Virginia.
Governor Ralph Northam announced that $22 million in federal CARES Act funding will be used for the statewide program to distribute the vaccines when they are approved for public use.
“We look forward to the day that a safe vaccine for COVID-19 is available for public use, so that we can get closer to living normal lives,” said Governor Northam. “We want to be ready to help Virginians get that vaccine as quickly, efficiently, and safely as possible."
The funding will only be used to support the Virginia Department of Health's vaccine preparations for the rest of the year. Then, the Commonwealth will look for additional sources of funding to support the program in 2021, which the VDH estimates will cost $120 million.
"I encourage Virginians to get this vaccine when it is available—that is our best way to end this pandemic," Northam added.
VDH has submitted its draft plan to roll out a vaccination program for approval with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). VDH Department of Immunization Director Christy Gray said they are anticipating an answer next week.
"Our plan was written to be prepared for November 1. That doesn't mean that we knew a vaccine would be available November 1, we just...did not want to not be ready if a vaccine became available," said Gray.
The state's plan for the COVID-19 vaccine program include:
- Assumptions, variables, and scenarios that can impact vaccine planning
- Measures to identify and estimate critical populations and establish vaccine priority groups
- Measures for provider recruitment, enrollment, and training
- Process for vaccine allocation, ordering, distribution, inventory management, and reporting doses administered
- Guidelines for appropriate vaccine storage and handling
- Methods for second dose reminders to ensure compliance with vaccine dosing intervals (most COVID-19 vaccines require two doses separated by 21 or 28 days) and achieve optimal vaccine effectiveness
- Systems for vaccine safety monitoring
- Procedures for vaccination program monitoring, including online dashboards
- Efforts to build confidence and inform the public about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, working with trusted community partners.
More information about VDH's COVID-19 vaccination response can be found here.